Time for a New Party?

Are We Ready for A Third (or Fourth) Political Party?

It’s Friday, so I thought we could have some fun with numbers. I’ve seen these numbers bandied about the net and on the news media. Their exactness isn’t totally important, it only matters that they are in the ballpark.

This week I have heard the numbers of self labeled Democrats and Republics stands around 39% Demo and 21% Rep. So roughly 60% of Americans identify with one of the two major parties. We are led to believe that the rest of the 40% of Americans belong to either small parties or are not committed to a party.

Now those numbers may worry you a bit if you are a Republican or a Conservative, but let’s look at some other numbers.

Among Americans, those who self identify as Conservatives is about 34%. While those who call themselves Liberals comprise about 7% (seven percent) of the population. Everyone else (~ 60%) gets lumped in as Moderates.

So let’s say, for fun, parties apart, the Liberals and Conservatives both decided to support the SAME candidate in an election and the Moderates all got together and supported someone else. The moderates would win. Hmmm

But wait… If Republicans are Conservative and Democrats are Liberals how come there are a WHOLE lot of Conservatives who don’t align with the Republican Party? More Importantly, who are all these Democrats who aren’t Liberals?

Well, we all know that MOST Democrats would never label or even consider themselves ‘Liberals’. Mostly because they aren’t. Most Democrats, well many at least, see themselves as conservative. Just as many Liberals are probably far more liberal than the Democratic Party sets itself out to be and they would self identify with those smaller parties with more liberal or even radical views.

So what is broken here? Those conservative Democrats want a lot of the things the Democratic Party supports. While they don’t want a bunch of government involvement in their lives, they do like the programs that we have come to enjoy and rely on. But maybe more importantly, these “Conservative Democrats” vary widely on specific issues. But they usually aren’t swayed by individual issues in the ways we think Conservative Republicans are. If you notice even in campaigns, Democrats are much less likely to get tied around individual issues. Democrats often change their views as the times change. That isn’t necessary a bad thing (unless it happens DURING an election). It is a pragmatic thing. It shows someone who is bright enough to change as our understanding of situations and knowledge in general change. These Conservative Democrats also understand that government is a compromise if it is going to work.

The idea that these Conservative Democrats don’t have a real ‘dealbreaker’ stance on most issues is what differentiates them from their more right leaning cousins.

It was these Conservative Democrats who brought Ron Reagan to power. Since most people vote their ‘conscience’ rather than by party ticket. These Moderates have no qualms about voting for the party/candidate which makes the most sense.

This is the same concept that brought Republicans control of Congress in 1995 after 50 years of Democrat control.

The big difference in the 1994 elections was that Clinton helped to mobilize the Religious Right to go to the polls and they greatly boosted the Republican numbers.

And in 2004 there was really no distinction between Kerry’s campaign and Bush’s campaign that would bring those Moderates over to Camp Kerry in big numbers.

Of course, the Republican Party was just the ‘Best Fit’ for the Religious Right. Too many Moderate Republicans have those flexible ‘values’. That really stymies the Religious Right. The Religious Right
have an inflexible and seemingly identical set of base values. They see no reason to compromise those beliefs to support ANY party. Which is why prior to 1994, they weren’t as big a block as they became. Also, Bill Clinton was an easy target for those who could embrace the Religious Right and bring them in against Clinton, and by proxy, all Democrats and Liberals became painted in the same shades.

But the Republican Party allowed the fire and brimstone style of their new best friends to take over the voice of the Party. You see that Farther Right portion of the Conservatives must either Fix the Party or leave.

So what happens is the Far Right’s inflexible rhetoric keeps away the Moderates and pushes away some of the Conservatives. Not to mention those Far Rightist leaving who feel the Republican Party is too Liberal.

So now our Parties are an ideological mess. That Majority of Americans that both sides claim to represent swings back and forth based on the message and outlook of the candidates.

What we need are probably four political parties in America. Let the Democrats and Republicans fight over their 40 to 60 % of the Moderate electorate while the Further Left and the Further Right fight over the other roughly 50%. If this really happened what would it mean? First of all elections would have to be much more issue oriented as the full spectrum of ideas and concerns are faced, rather than just shades of the same Moderate concerns. The Congress would be manned by a variety of representatives for 4 parties –or more– and No One would be assured of any topic passing without much debate and compromise. And more debate and even more compromise is good.

But would we really like 4 parties? We like winners. We like to be on the winning side. With 4 Parties all having 20% of the electorate fighting over the other 20%, there would be no clear party to side with. Are we ready for a political system where the electorates themselves have to understand the issues and make hard decisions?

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15 Responses to Time for a New Party?

  1. dummidumbwit says:

    It’s worked for so long, England seems 2 party now as well. It could happen and might possibly be of some good but I just get the Heebie Jeebies thinking about Weimar and the Russian coalitions before the Red Takeover, it’s just unknown and scary so I’m more inclined to want to fix the GOP instead. FEAR I think we are basically a moderate Center Right country and if things get too weird, we’ll take a hard turn to the right (Reagan).

  2. connecticutman1 says:

    The more the merrier.

    I am all for it. Having legitimate alternatives allows you to voice your discontent with the status quo more easily without leaving a section on your ballot blank. And never mind that that more parties there are the more expensive it becomes for lobbyists to try and buy them. They can’t afford to buy every candidate when there are 4 or 5 parties.

  3. […] Mad Ravings: Time for the U.S. to have more political parties? […]

  4. dummidumbwit says:

    Fiscal conservatism, low tax, pro growth ideas are not inherently bad, they just need to be aimed more at the start up end of the economic spectrum? Big Business at the GM Citibank level can actually be distinctly anti free market if not watched I think, that is the problem with all out Reagan ism? A candidate that addresses this reality (and Obama does to a point) would be different.

  5. dummidumbwit says:

    External Factors (Iran/USSR) can come into play as with Reagan. Ron Paul is the closest to a real choice, He’s very interesting and fun to watch? But he’s too tied to trickle down for me as yet?

  6. thelastsocialist says:

    I doubt the Democrats would ever run too left a lefty (lol) because that would isolate them from this fluctuating centrist Moderate base. Were the GOP and the Democrats to run more extremist type candidtates, the center would be very open to a moderate Ross Perot type candidate. We would see a very viable 3rd perty if that candidate had the right personal appeal.

  7. dummidumbwit says:

    I may be at odds with some of the opinions expressed, and so be it. But I think the end goal is to move the GOP back to the center, away from the extremist Social Conservative end of the spectrum so they can offer a viable option in case the Democrats actually lose their minds and run a real lefty?I’m slightly to the left of a Reagan Democrat and real lefties terrify me almost as much as real righties. Boring, but it’s the American way?

  8. A huge problem in making sense out of these polls is the questions force people to identify in ways that are likely inaccurate. I’m not a political party member (none in my state I care to join) and polling questionnaires forced me to pick “other” repeatedly to avoid not-quite-accurate statements of my positions and priorities.

    US needs more parties if for no other reason to have large numbers of people asked questions outside the limited thinking of the two parties. And I am sick of writing in candidates just for the exercise. Angela Davis probably didn’t even want to be Governor of Pennsylvania back in the ’80s when I wrote her in nor will she want Arlen Specter’s seat. 😉

  9. jon says:

    Totally agree that the Democrat/Republican duopoly is ready to be fractured. For me one of the most significant realizations of the primary season was in February. In a space of a few weeks, “double bubble trouble” in LA in the California primary, and a similarly design defect in Washington State revealed that independent/decline-to-state voters had been undercounted by 30-40% for years. In other words this tendency’s a lot stronger than anybody expected.

    I think what we’ll move to is a more multi-partisan system, with five or six “large” parties and some viable smaller ones as well. Libertarians, evengalical moderates, Constitution/AIP, neocons, RINOs/Blue Dogs, the Working Families Party, progressives, Greens … any of these could coalesce into parties. To win elections, candidates would typically have to appeal to several parties.

    True, It’s a long way away from where we are right now but I think the trend is very likely to be in that direction.

    jon

  10. thelastsocialist says:

    We do have a lot of Fascist potentials. I think the left has more control because big socialism has a lot of options to include social democracy. But youre right in a way, mult smaller parties gives a bigger voice to extreme parties. Kind of the opposite of big state/little state rep in congress and the need for the senate. Definitely intriguing.

  11. dummidumbwit says:

    Both extremes represent Utopian thinking, on the right the triumph of Free Markets, Capitalism (the extremist form aka Adam Smith with no adjustments), the Left a more Centralized Communal state with less emphasis on Profit and property). The Media seeking ratings and interest, inflames this especially since the cable/internet revolution allows so much content.
    Checks and balances were designed to force popular rule away from the emotive appeals of extremist ideology. The theories are wonderful but the results on both ends are inferior to balance which seems sadly lacking at times.
    Limbaugh, Beck Hannity, O’Reilly Olberman and Maddow are too extreme, but only Maddow really has any brains? The democrats have a better hold on their extremists than the GOP and that’s why they win, not the superiority of the left’s vision?
    The Wiemar Republic still sours me on too much diversity, we are too much like Germany for that.

  12. thelastsocialist says:

    The media makes its money off the extremes because we pay them to. It is a form of entertainment not information any more. We’d at least get two more 24 hour news channels 🙂

  13. thelastsocialist says:

    Youre right we are a much more varied people. There would be, by necessity, more compromise because issues can’t be black and white. But the deadlock or merely more time consuming process is interesting. Coalitions would form and that would better assure, I think, that decisions were more broad based. I think we have too much diversity for 2 parties to represent. And yes, the candidates would be more platform oriented. But again, you would see a better view of what the electorate REALLY desires… maybe? Sometimes I think America couldn’t really handle it….

  14. dummidumbwit says:

    http://dummidumbwit.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/ronald-reagan-comments-on-limbaugh-beck-and-hannity/
    You got a point, the Lefties are as out of control as the righties, all the votes are in the middle, but the media makes it’s money off the extremes???

  15. Interesting. I’ve often heard it argued that a multiparty system will be a system that doesn’t get anything done. No majorities aligning on anything i.e. to much compromise.

    Take for example, Social Security. You have the far right saying close social security, middle right saying privatize social security with various options, middle left saying properly fund social security, and far left saying expand social security. Everybody is fighting for their principles and values because each group bases it’s stance on the issue from their values/principles. A politician in one group that turns on that parties principles would be hung out to dry while a politician in a party in the current system get’s a little bit of a pass because he “can’t be all things to all people”. In a multiparty system it seems to me that it would create polticians that have to be more ridged as they have to more nearly target market their niche political segment messages. (i.e. the smaller your market the more niche focused your message must become) This means politicians would have less variance to degrees that their parties are narrower.

    In practice this will make compromise more difficult and in a system with more issues at the table (due to more groups at the table) you’d need more compromise not less. This would create major dead lock as things are debated without any action being able to be taken as each party has to stick closer to the constituents without varying by degrees while at the same time contending with 3 opposing views instead of 1. Deadlock?

    What do you think?

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